Some rain did not deter walkers during the Canberra Walking Festival

By Kaitlyn Watson, University of Canberra intern 2019

The 28th annual Canberra Walking Festival was held during the last weekend of March. The festival welcomed a total of well over 400 participants from 17 different countries including Norway, the Netherlands, Russia, the United States and across Australia. Walk-ins were also accepted over the weekend.

Interstate and Russian walkers

The festival experienced its first rain of its 28 year history, but it did not put a damper on the joyful moods of these determined walkers. Even with dark clouds, chilling winds and first drops of rain on Saturday morning, walkers put on their raincoats and marched out of the doors at Albert Hall, to complete various distances walking around the Canberra region. But everyone was pleased to see the sun come out again on Sunday.

For some, this festival was their first; travelling all the way from places such as Russia to see the wonders of Australia, and choosing to take part in the festival partnered with IML and IVV walking associations.

Others such as the Watson family originally from Wollongong, have been attending this festival for over 19 years. The eldest of this family, first saw this event being advertised in the second year it ran and decided to participate as a family to spend time together and be active. Over the years this family has continued to partake in this event, introducing it to their children.

Watson children displaying their medals accumulated over several years walking

Over the weekend, there was a sense of exhilaration and companionship amongst the many walkers. Old friends being reacquainted at registration and the welcome walk on the Friday, and new friendships formed during the longer walks over the weekend. The excitement on the first day of the festival could be felt throughout the whole of Albert Hall, with many greeting the regular volunteers, taking photos with the international flags and showcasing their various medals, pins and awards received from other festivals and walking events.

This annual festival relies solely on volunteers to run the event. The current committee will continue running the festival next year and then Rotary will take over the reigns in 2021. While some of the regular walkers are unsure about how a change in leadership will influence the event, the committee are confident that the event will evolve and grow under Rotary’s stewardship.

This festival has a significant impact on the tourism sector in Canberra. Not only does it bring various international visitors to the region, but it also advertises and showcases the picturesque scenery Canberra has to offer. If this event were to end, Canberra would lose a significant amount of new and repeat international and domestic visitors.

Lithuanian and Swedish walkers

Hopefully this event will endure into the future and will continue to bring international and domestic tourists to the Canberra region, to enjoy the wonders of the Australian Capital while being active and healthy.


Canberra Walking Festival Internship Experience

by Bradley Timms, University of Canberra Intern 2019

I was lucky enough to participate in an internship with the Canberra Walking Festival of 2019, as part of my ‘Events and Tourism Management’ degree. In this blog post, I will be discussing the benefits of the festival from different aspects including international walkers, walkers from other regions of Australia, Canberra walkers, volunteers and my own experience as an intern.

Throughout my time with the walking festival, I spoke to multiple people from North America and Europe. When I asked those walkers why they decided to travel all the way to Canberra, many of them said that they came purely for the event itself. They spoke about the chances it gave them to experience scenery and landmarks that were completely different to anything they were used to. They also loved how friendly the volunteers and fellow walkers were, which gave them a great opportunity to socialise. For these reasons, I would strongly encourage international walkers to experience the Canberra Walking Festival.

People coming to the festival from other regions of Australia had quite similar motivations for checking out the festival. Many of these walkers just purely loved the joy of walking and this was an opportunity to check out Canberra landmarks in a structured way. Because of this, I recommend Australians come to Canberra for the Walking Festival.

From the local Canberra walkers that I spoke to, a common reason that motivated them to get involved was the socialisation aspect. The chance to meet people from other countries and regions of Australia was a positive experience for them. The festival had even brought international walkers from previous years back multiple times and it was a perfect opportunity to catch up with them again.

Volunteers were a huge part of making the festival run as smoothly and effectively as it did. Some of the benefits of volunteering included the chance to experience the walks before the main participants of the festival, as well as the opportunities to socialise with fellow volunteers and walkers. Many volunteers spoke about how they had been working with the same people at the festival for multiple years. While working on volunteer duties, people still got the chance to socialise with walkers and its for these reasons that I would strongly encourage others to volunteer at the festival.

I decided to participate in the festival as part of my university degree, in order to experience organisation in the lead up to an event, the practices happening during an event as well as the aftermath of an event. I was able to experience all these things through research of the event, collaboration with other volunteers, helping with setup, preparing profiles, marshal activities, registration activities and marketing for future events. While all of this was excellent experience for the events industry, I also achieved many other benefits such as the chance to experience one of the guided walks. Through this, I was able to see many Canberra landmarks which I had never even heard of before. Some of those Landmarks will be shown below. Because I was given many opportunities to experience multiple aspects of what was involved in running an event, I would strongly encourage future university students to participate in this festival as their internship. I would also encourage anyone else in the events and tourism industry to experience the festival through volunteering or as a walker. In conclusion, the main reasons why most people enjoyed the event were the chances to socialise with people from all over the world and to see the landmarks and scenery from Canberra. For me, I received both of those benefits but also got the chance to experience an event in a way that will be helpful for the progression of my degree and career. For all these reasons, I would strongly encourage people to get involved as a walker, a volunteer or as part of a university degree.

Join us for the Canberra Walking Festival in 2020!

80km Bondi Manly Walk

The Sydney Morning Herald recently published an article about developing the 8okm route from Bondi Beach (south of Sydney) to Manly Beach (South of Sydney), passing the iconic Opera House and crossing Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is already possible to walk most of this route, but it is not well signed in places, so we are looking forward to this full route developing further over the next few years.

AussieWalk already has IVV walks that cover part of this area: Spit Bridge to Manly 10km walk and part of our Sydney City 12km route. Plus we extend the walk up to 16km south from Bondi Beach to the Malabar headland. See maps and details on our Permanent Trails page.


New AussieWalk Website Goes Live!

The AussieWalk website has had a major overhaul to make it easier to read on multiple platforms. We’ve also updated the site with all the information about the new national AussieWalk IVV organisation. We invite you to have a look around and let us know what you think. You can make comments below (first select the “leave a comment” link above to open the comment box), or on our AussieWalk Facebook page, or via email. You can also sign up to our news emails on our Contact page.

We expect there will be a few gremlins as we get accustomed to the new technology, so if you experience any problems with the new site please let us know.

Hooray!

Hooray!


A.C.T. Minister opens Walking Festival

ACT Minister Shane Rattenbury standing at a podium.

Mr Shane Rattenbury, A.C.T. Minister of Sport and Recreation Services, welcomes walkers to Canberra.

Mr. Shane Rattenbury, Minister of Sport and Recreation Services for the Australian Capital Territory, officially opened this year’s Canberra Walking Festival at 5PM on Friday, 27 March.

Australians from five states and the national capital welcomed the festival’s first participants from China as well as overseas walkers from Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.



OAMs awarded to Harry and Kathleen Berg

A photo of Harry and Kathleen Berg with GG Quentin Bryce.

Harry and Kathleen Berg with Governor-General Quentin Bryce in September.

Did you know that Harry and Kathleen Berg have received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to recreational walking?

The honour was announced last Queen’s Birthday (June 2013) and presented in September. 

The Bergs were nominated for their exceptional commitment to promoting the health and social benefits of walking as well as to encouraging international friendship and understanding. After experiencing multi-day walking events in Europe, Harry and Kathleen established the Canberra Two Day Medal Walk in 1992. Their aim was to promote walking, to provide a healthy, enjoyable recreational activity and to encourage walkers to achieve a personal challenge. They also sought to encourage international friendships. This aim was notably advanced in 1997 when the Canberra Two Day Walk was accepted into the IML Walking Association.

The Association has strict requirements for events to be recognised by the IML. Through its award system, walkers are encouraged to participate in IML events around the world. IML walks are held in 26 countries throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. The Canberra Two Day Walk, now known as the Canberra Walking Festival, attracts hundreds of walkers from across Australia and overseas. Participants choose walks of various distances from 5km through 42km (marathon). Ample time is allowed for walkers to enjoy the sites of Canberra, and even our local walkers find something new to see.

Many walkers return each year because they enjoy the varied and attractive courses, the social atmosphere, the quality of the organisation and the opportunity to meet and interact with overseas walkers. Many international friendships have been formed and Australian walkers have taken the opportunity to renew those friendships by taking part in IML events overseas.

The Canberra Walking Festival has been very successful in supporting the IML’s motto: “May walking bring us together.” Our event has received consistently positive feedback from our overseas participants. In addition, the event has done much to promote the health benefits of walking for all ages, as well as promoting programs with similar aims, such as those managed by Heart Foundation Walking. All this did not happen without a lot of hard work by Harry and Kathleen!

Harry’s personal contribution has included:
–Founding President of the Canberra Two Day Walk Association (the organising committee of volunteers) and occupying that position for 15 years followed by active membership on the committee since then.
–Creating and maintaining a database of participant information.
–Processing all registration and preparing start cards.
–Developing, measuring and mapping walk routes; preparing detailed directions and signage.
–Preparing the Control Centre and all equipment for the events. 

Kathleen’s personal contribution has included:
–Secretary of the Canberra Two Day Walk Association and maintaining an active membership on the committee since then.
–Managing the 50+ volunteers needed to run the event.
–Guiding the planning of the event and related activities, including obtaining government approvals.
–Dealing with overseas inquiries; providing accommodation and travel advice.
–Assisting overseas walkers during the event to ensure their stay in Australia is enjoyable and rewarding.

Over the past 22 years, the Canberra Two Day Walk has been enjoyed by nearly 10,000 walkers. In addition to the Canberra Walking Festival, the Bergs have introduced Internationaler Volkssport Verband (IVV) walks in Australia. IVV walks are available in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Lakes Entrance, Bairnsdale and Wodonga. Harry and Kathleen regularly host overseas groups wishing to undertake IVV walks in Australia. Their promotion of IVV walks here has encouraged many Australian walkers to take part in IVV walks overseas.


Blisters!

An article by Diana:

Do you suffer from blisters like me? I didn’t realise that I had a serious problem with blisters until I participated in my very first two day walk. Then I sure found out about the “joys” of blisters! For my first walk I made two basic mistakes:

1. I was wearing relatively new shoes that had not been broken in properly for a long walk. I later decided these shoes were not right for my feet, and so no amount of breaking in would have helped.

2. I had not walked such a long distance before, so I did not know how my feet were going to react. Generally I can walk up to about 20kms without too many problems, but anything longer will result in blisters unless I take some precautions. The distance for each walker will vary, and some lucky walkers will never experience the discomfort of blisters. It really helps if you can identify your own foot ‘hot spots’ before venturing off on a very long walk, so that you can take the necessary precautions.

Blisters are caused by repeated friction/rubbing from shoes and/or socks on the skin causing friction burns, and once the outer layer of skin separates from the inner layers the space between fills with fluid.

However blisters can be prevented by following a few simple steps:

  • Ensure your shoes fit correctly and are in good conditions (not too new or too old) – I prefer Asics running shoes over walking or hiking boots, but everyone is different.
  • Identify your own foot ‘hot spots’ and protect the areas prior to starting your walk – I like Mefix tape or Leukosilk (but have started using Flexitol Blistop spray which has been pretty effective too – a bit like applying a spray bandaid) and love Scholl Gell Finger/Toe Protectors for my blister prone toes (it’s a little pricey, but can be re-used).
  • Ensure all seams are flat inside your shoes and socks fit snugly without wrinkles. I have had good success with using lightweight double layered socks (WrightSock) that wick away moisture.
  • Keep feet as dry as possible. Consider changing your socks during a very long walk and perhaps using foot powder to help keep them dry.

At the first sign of a blister – STOP! Don’t try to walk through the pain. Immediately apply a dressing/plaster or tape the area. Dry your feet and change your socks if possible, and this should provide immediate relief. I recommend all walkers take a change of socks and some tape/plasters in their day pack if venturing out on a very long walk.

If you do suffer from blisters during the Canberra International Walking Weekend, come and see our first aid attendant in the Control Centre who can provide some treatment to help get you through the event!

Do you have any suggestions for preventing or treating blisters? Or perhaps you can recommend a product that you have found particularly effective. If so, please leave a comment below…